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AHL Morning Skate: May 4, 2024 |

The Belleville Senators need a rest.

The B-Sens have been on the road for the better part of the past two weeks. They did not clinch a Calder Cup Playoff berth until April 19, in the second-to-last game of the regular season. After their final regular season game the following night, they had to quickly turn around and prepare for their best-of-three first-round series against Toronto, then their division semifinal against Cleveland.

A nail-biting final week of the regular season and then five playoff games in 10 nights — including three that went to overtime — added a lot of hockey.

The head coach David Bell is giving his club today what he calls a “reset day” after last night's 4-3 overtime loss to Cleveland. A practice day will follow on Sunday before the 400-mile trip to Cleveland to prepare for Game 3 on Wednesday.

“They've been in the ring every day since the (regular) season ended,” Bell said after last night's game. “Take a day off, get away from the rink, shut down their hockey brains, and have a good day of work on Sunday.”

It's hot, crowded, and noisy.

That was the case with the goalkeeper of the Grand Rapids Griffins Sebastian Cossa last night at Van Andel Arena, which is always one of the most intimidating arenas in the AHL. Nearly 9,000 fans were treated to a great, if emotional, game as Rockford rallied in the third period to hold off a two-goal Griffins lead before the home team took overtime, 4-3.

The IceHogs like to crash the net, create chaos up front, and constantly put sticks on pucks in-close. The 21-year-old Cossa had to deal with the chaos throughout the night.

“It was unreal,” Cossa told the media after the victory. “It was very hot there. Lots of people, lots of shouting. I loved every second of it.”

But after two Rockford goals in the final 3:38 of regulation forced overtime, Cossa and the Griffins had to rally, and eventually took a 2-1 series lead. Jonathan BerggrenSecond OT goal of the series. Learning to handle pressure and obstacles is part of the growth process that the Calder Cup Playoffs provide.

“One of the biggest things I've worked on is my mental strength,” explained Cossa, a first-round pick by Detroit in the 2021 NHL Draft.

How did you use the break before overtime?

“I think I did a really good job of reminding myself what I had to do there. I was still fully confident that we would win the game. I wouldn't have conceded a goal there.”

Even after lifting the Calder Cup twice and skating at Madison Square Garden in the Stanley Cup Playoffs a few days ago, Hershey's captain. Dylan McIlrath I'm still reeling from Game 1 of the Bears' Calder Cup title defense on Wednesday.

McIlrath is back in Hershey's lineup as they open the Atlantic Division semifinals with a 2-1 win against Lehigh Valley, his first game with the Bears since April 13. He was with the Washington Capitals two games ago. of their regular season before sitting out all four games of the first round against the New York Rangers.

So he could relate to younger teammates making their Calder Cup Playoff debut and feeling those pregame jitters. McIlrath, who won the Calder Cup with Grand Rapids in 2017 before doing so again last year with the Bears, detailed a pregame conversation with another veteran. Mike Vecchione.

“We both said, 'We've got butterflies again,'” McIlrath said. “We both know how important it is to play at this time of year.”

But McIlrath also knows how to moderate those nerves at this point in his career.

“The message in the room was OK, we have to go,” McIlrath said. “Just come in. If you're going to make a mistake, make it hard. We didn't want to dip our toe in the water, and I thought we had a good start.”

Meanwhile, the coach of the Phantoms Ian Laperriere There was a ton of joy after a tight game loss at the Giant Center in Game 1.

“I liked the effort,” Laperriere said of facing the AHL regular season champion. “I am not crying about anything here. They are a great team. They will be better in Game 2, so we need to be better.

“It happened. You have to move on. That's the playoffs.”

That doesn't mean Laperriere didn't see an area of ​​his team's game that needed more attention. Hershey's first goal came from a Hendrix Lapierre tip of the long point shot from Chase Priskie at the start of the first half. On the Bears' second drive, their fourth line hit the net early Henrik Rybinski slipped the rebound past the Phantoms keeper Cal Petersen.

“It will be a series [of] who will win the battle of the net front, and they won again,” said Laperriere. “We need to regroup and get a little better in our zone and a little better in front of our net. They won't give us goals so we have to fight for those goals.”

“I think you always try to win the game in the first half,” the head coach of the Providence Bruins Ryan Mougenel he said after his team's 6-0 win over Hartford in Game 2 of the Atlantic Division semifinals last night.

Mission accomplished, as the Bruins capitalized on early goals from the start Jason Megna again Brett Harrison It took 24 seconds for them to build a 3-0 lead before turning the game into a rout in the second half.

Providence went 16-4-3-1 when hitting first in the regular season.

“Our idea is to play and let the momentum take over,” explained Mougenel. “Find those moments when you can't be creative, and if you lose it, find a way to get it back. I thought we did a good job with that.”

― with files from Patrick Williams

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